A University of California-Berkeley journalism student who was driving during a 2007 Menlo Park crash that claimed the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam has been sentenced to five days in the sheriff's work program.
Kevin Lloyd Jones, 27, appeared nervous when he faced San Mateo Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum today. Before he was sentenced Jones read a previously written statement, apologizing for the Halberstam family's loss.
"His memory will guide my decisions ... my career as a journalist will be a tribute to his life," Jones said in the statement.
A probation report recommended that Jones be sentenced to nine months in jail for the misdemeanor, but Forcum, as well as Deputy District Attorney Shin-Mee Chang disagreed. Because of the level of remorse Jones has shown throughout the proceedings, the district attorney's office recommended five days in jail as well as community service.
Forcum sentenced Jones to five days of jail time, which may be served through the Sheriff's Work Program, as well as 200 hours of community service. Forcum specified that Jones will do his community service in schools, helping children read and write.
Halberstam's daughter Julia sent a letter to be entered into court, Chang said. In the letter she said that her father would not have wanted Jones to go to jail, but because of his "chronic carelessness" behind the wheel of a car he should not have a driver's license.
Jones has previous infractions including driving under the influence, being the party at fault for an accident and speeding, according to his probation report.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said that when a defendant is as "truly inconsolable" as Jones was when he gave his initial statement to the police a long sentence is not necessary.
"The goal is to make him reflect about what he's done," Wagstaffe said, and this sentence is insightful of the situation.
Halberstam, 73, of New York City, was killed in a three-car collision near the Dumbarton Bridge last April 23. The crash occurred shortly after 10:30 a.m. on the westbound Bayfront Expressway at Willow Road, according to Menlo Park police.
Halberstam was in the passenger seat of a Toyota Camry being driven by Jones, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, on their way to a book interview. Halberstam was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Chang, the status of Halberstam was not taken into account during the prosecution's decision to file criminal charges against Jones.
"We would have treated it the same whether the victim was a homeless person or a person of Halberstam's status," Chang said.